Making a difference

CARALISE TRAYES
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012

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They are ordinary people doing exceptional things among us.

Five from the North Harbour area were given a Local Heroes award as part of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards.

David Gould, Emma Ghaemmaghamy, Clive ‘Spy' Kelly, Carl Sunderland and Duane Monk were all recognised for their outstanding work in the community.

The awards were presented at the Auckland War Memorial Museum by Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina.

"Many of these medal winners are unsung heroes whose selflessness has had a profound effect on the lives of so many in the community. Those acts of charity, optimism and commitment are the glue that hold a community together and as a community we must stand alongside one another and give thanks for their efforts," he says.

Mayor Len Brown, who was unable to attend the medal presentation, says the best cities are built on strong communities where people look out for each other.

"Every community needs its local heroes and that is why it's so important we take the time to say thanks. We as Aucklanders owe a debt of gratitude to all the Local Heroes receiving medals today and I offer my heartfelt thanks."

Award recipient Duane Monk has voluntarily coached karate in Auckland for 25 years. The Browns Bay resident has been the national coach for six.

His nominator says he has a passion and drive to see New Zealand succeed flows through all competitors on the team.

In coming weeks 10 people from among the local winners around the country will be chosen for the local hero semifinals.

A national winner will be announced early next year.

Background

Picture 1: Choice Foundation general manager Mr  Sunderland runs an educational leadership programme in low decile schools called Stand Tall.

The Albany resident founded Stand Tall in 2009 after seeing a gap in the intermediate education system for good students who want to achieve in life. He says children living in low socio-economic areas often have limited exposure to career and educational opportunities which can mean lack of confidence, poor choices and limited success.

Mr Sunderland dedicates his time and resources to ensure New Zealand has future leaders by investing in education leadership programmes in school and he spends countless hours working with children at grassroots level.

Picture 2:

Quadruple amputee Mr Gould from Albany receives a Local Heroes award, nominated by son Chris.

David contracted Hodgkinsons disease when Chris was a year old. He was in the process of settling his family down and opening a successful business.

The disease claimed all four of his limbs.

After rehabilitation he was fitted with artificial arms and legs and continues to do exactly what he did before the disease hit.

Chris says David provided his family with a nice home, and he is a brilliant father and husband.

''I never met anyone who inspired me as much as my dad. What he achieved through sheer will, determination, and courage absolutely bewilders me.''

Picutre 3: 

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Talented musician Ms Ghaemmaghamy, 23, has got character to match.

The Browns Bay resident studied music from age 5  and plays violin, piano, guitar, drums, sings, writes songs and dances. Emma completed a certificate of adult teaching at Wintec and has taught from home since the age of 17.

She also started the Waikato Modern Choir when she was living in Cambridge. Now she teaches at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Manukau with students aged between 16 and 80.

Emma has accomplished all this despite battling very serious health issues, including having hydrocephalus and needing 23 surgical procedures.

Picture 4:

Mr Kelly has been involved with the North Harbour Rugby Union for nearly 30 years.

He's been supporting Blues rugby management for more than a decade, refereeing junior rugby for more than 20, and assisting All Blacks sides when in Auckland.

His nominator says he has worked tirelessly at all levels of the game from grassroots up to the All Blacks. He has affected many people for the better and relates well to people of all ages and backgrounds.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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